So I'm looking at Dells. The Dell Latitude E6410 is very similar to the Thinkpad T410 ; Core i5 or i7 duals, nice magnesium case, 14.1" at 1440x900 matte (worse than my current lappy which is 1440x1050 but passable). NVidia 3100M. Proper hard drive options. All around it looks like a very nice general purpose lappy.
Dell Precision M4500 is the "mobile workstation" , equivalent to the Thinkpad W510. It's interesting how Dell and Lenovo seem to have lined up their products as direct competing analogues; there's some economic theory term for that. Anyway, it has options for dual or quad Core i5/i7, NV 1800 or 880 GPU, it can do two hard disks, screen is 15.6" at 1600x900 or 1920x1080 ; seems reasonable for me. One problem is it only has 2 RAM slots, so I'll max out at 8 GB, while the Thinkpad W510 has four. (Correction : no it can't really do two hard disks, it can run a second SSD in a mini slot, that's not as good as the 6500 which can do two real disks).
(the Dell M6500 is the even bigger one, but it doesn't offer a DX11 GPU either so there's really no point in stepping up to it; the best is an ATI FirePro M7740 which is a shitty business certified kind of thing on DX 10.1 ; it does have a proper 17" 16:10 screen in "WUXGA" (1920x1200) and you can get it factory built with RAID 0 2x500 GB 7200 RPM disks which is not bad. )
Dell has some retarded naming going on right now, watch out for that. eg the Latitude 6400 and 6500 are the old model, the xx10 are the new ones. The Dell Precision 4400 , 6400, etc are the old ones, the x500 are the new ones. WTF. Also the "Precision M" series is actually part of the "Latitude E" family and thus is compatible with the "E Series" docking solutions. But the docking changed from the 6400 to the 6410 generation so watch out for that. Yay. All these business Dell lappies do docking, though there are many reports of problems with that. It looks like those problems may be various drivers, but come on Dell, you need to get your shit together.
(BTW you might think the AlienWares would be ever better, but no, not really. The best GPU you can get is an ATI HD 4870 which is DX 10. The screens are glossy and they don't have docking. Boo).
A few niggles to look at :
WiMAX ? So far as I know WiMax is not really rolled out in the US yet, but it is exciting for the future. Since I don't actually use my lappy on the go this is probably not for me. Maybe someday I'll have a WiMax router at home and cancel my cable.
Dual Core at something like 2.4 / 2.6 Ghz or Quad Core at 1.6 / 1.73 Ghz ? I suspect that the dual is actually faster for most current usage, but I'm tempted to go with the quad to give myself a better test environment for my multicore code. It is also nice the way multicore fixes Windows broke ass multi-tasking so that you can actually have 3 apps running and they are all fully responsive.
(BTW all you fucking app developers should not be gobbling so much CPU when your app is out of focus god damnit, especially gobbling CPU for fucking cutesy UI update shit when you are not focus).
128 GB SSD or 500 GB 7200 RPM HD ? SSD is no doubt the win for a thin/light lappy, but for this type of workstation lappy I'm not so sure. There are reports of data loss, performance degradation over time, etc. that are a bit scary for something I hope to run for 5-10 years. The fast random access and not having to worry about defrag is a pretty huge win though. One annoyance is I would have to buy my own SSD third party and reintall Windows.
Small addendum on SSDs : yeah they are the win. Going for a 160 GB Intel X25-M. Make sure you get a "G2" (gen2) as Gen 1 apparently has no TRIM. Also the X25-E is *way* faster, but crazy expensive and only 32 GB. That indicates though that SSD speeds are going to continue to shoot up and prices come down.